As you may have already seen, we’ve announced proposals to consult on an exciting new vision for the Sobell Leisure Centre – including a new “mega adventure” soft-play area, a “ninja warrior” style inflatable zone, and upgrades to the squash courts, gym, and boxing area.

Cllr Nurullah Turan, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Health and Social Care, gives five reasons why we’ve announced these plans:

1) Rebuilding after the flood: Last August, a water main burst on the nearby Hornsey Road caused devastating damage to the much-loved centre.

While some of the facilities have since reopened, the whole ground floor – including the trampoline park, soft play, ice rink, squash courts, and sports hall – have been condemned, and will have to be completely stripped out. Given that these areas are effectively a blank slate, the council and GLL have the opportunity to re-imagine how best these spaces could be used by the local community.

2) Sport is for everyone: Here in Islington, we believe in a more equal future, where everyone can enjoy the social, mental, and physical benefits of regular exercise.

Our proposals for the Sobell are designed to ensure it appeals to a greater and broader range of people. There are specific areas for all ages – a soft-play for small children, a ninja warrior area for older children and teenagers, and new squash courts, gym, and an enlarged boxing area for adults. If realised, we anticipate that our changes would see a rise in usage levels to 250,000 people per year, from a broad range of backgrounds.

3) A better resident experience: By redesigning this space we can help create a more user-friendly experience for visitors to the Sobell, where activities are spaced appropriately and are grouped by age. The creation of a new café and seating area will provide a welcoming space for families, friends, and schools, while also creating new jobs and apprenticeship opportunities.

4) A financially stable future: For more than a decade, austerity has ravaged council budgets, and the devastating cost-of-living crisis has stretched budgets to the limit.

Even before steep rise in energy prices, the ice rink at the Sobell Leisure Centre had been making an annual loss of £250,000 per year. The current cost-of-living crisis would only have aggravated those losses, and the opening of the new ice rink at Lee Valley would likely have led to further a fall in the ice rink’s usage. Given that the rink has been condemned, building a new one from scratch is financially unviable. By repurposing this space in the way we’ve suggested, we can help attract thousands more people, from a broad range of backgrounds, back to the Sobell.

5) Your chance to have your say: We place local people at the heart of absolutely everything we do.

We want your ideas, insights, and views to help shape the future of the Sobell Leisure Centre. We believe that our proposals offer the potential for a brighter, better, more economically-viable future for the Sobell Leisure Centre – but we want you to have your say! We’re due to start consulting later this month, so it’s really important that you get involved and give us your views.

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